MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Maple Leafs
Oilers open six-game road trip with a game against the Maple Leafs
|TV: CBC (HD)
RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 5:10 p.m. MT
AT THE MORNING SKATEOilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins makes his way back to the city where he got his professional head coaching start tonight as his team takes on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"I think I know everybody that works in this building from the ushers to the zamboni guy to obviously, the staff," said Eakins. "I've got a history with a lot of the players. It's always good when it's something familiar."
Eakins spent the last four seasons of his coaching career with the Maple Leafs American Hockey League affiliate, the Marlies.
The Oilers acquired forward Mike Brown from the Maple Leafs in 2013 for a fourth round pick. Brown now returns to the team which he suited up for in three seasons (2010-2013).
"We got in yesterday, got to have a bite to eat out in Toronto and it's good to see some of the guys," said Brown. "It will be pretty cool to play here on the visitors side I guess."
Looking at the success Toronto has had to start the year, Brown believes this is an important game for the Oilers who are looking to build some momentum at the start of a long road trip.
"This game is huge for us. We didn't get off on the right start but we need to take every game and just kind of worry about it one game at a time and this time we want to get the two points and we're not looking at anything further than this game right now. We know why we've got to do to just come out and get the two points.
The Oilers have missed big, physical forward Jesse Joensuu who has missed time with a back injury. Joensuu was on the ice for today's morning skate and could return to game action as soon as tonight.
"I think if he is ready to go then we have to put him in," said Eakins. "He's something that we've missed in our lineup. A big body who works like that, to be able to flex his muscles physically."
Eakins says the team has missed him and would be ecstatic to have Joensuu back in the lineup.
"I thought we missed him right away when we lost him in that game. I thought as soon as he got hurt, we missed him terribly. He's done everything we asked of him and he plays a hard, hard game and we need more of that in our lineup right now."
Joensuu says he feels ready to come back.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
OILERS (1-3-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (4-1-0)
Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadian rivals last faced off on Feb. 15, 2012, with the Maple Leafs recording a 4-3 overtime win at Rexall Place.
Big story: First-place Maple Leafs. It has a nice ring to it for the fans in Toronto, even if it's only the second week of the season. The team is holding its own in a division that features not only traditional rivals like the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, but now the Detroit Red Wings as well. The Maple Leafs will host an Oilers team struggling to find its way and beginning a six-game road trip.
Oilers: Any hopes a four-goal third-period rally and shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday would get Edmonton streaking in the right direction were dashed with Thursday's 4-1 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Devan Dubnyk returned to the net after Jason LaBarbera started against the Devils. He turned in his best effort of the young season, stopping 23 of 26 shots, but after Ryan Smyth's power-play goal in the second period opened the scoring, the Oilers' offense was stymied.
"It was a matter of missed opportunities at certain times in the night," captain Andrew Ference said. "We showed a lot of jump right off the bat and we got a couple of power plays that I don't think we even got a shot on them. We had some really good shifts and some really good portions of hockey, and it was just taking our foot off the pedal for certain parts of the game.
"It's disappointing. We had some inconsistent shifts where we failed to follow up strong portions of hockey once again."
Maple Leafs: Bouncing back from a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday turned out to be as simple for Toronto as putting Jonathan Bernier between the pipes and letting him get to work. The 25-year-old stopped all 36 shots against the Nashville Predators on Thursday in a 4-0 victory at Bridgestone Arena.
"I'm trying to make the saves I need to make," Bernier said in The Toronto Star. "The focus here tonight was to get the two points we lost at home."
Who's hot: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has a goal and an assist in two games since rejoining the Oilers' lineup. … Bernier has an 0.85 goals-against average and .974 save percentage for the Maple Leafs in three starts and one relief appearance. Joffrey Lupul has three goals and two assists during a four-game point streak.
Injury report: Edmonton is without defensemen Corey Potter (back) and Denis Grebeshkov (groin) and forwards Sam Gagner (broken jaw), Steve MacIntyre (knee) and Jesse Joensuu (back). … Toronto defenseman Cody Franson left Thursday's game after being hit into the boards by Nashville forward Mike Fisher. He suffered facial lacerations and is day-to-day. Forwards Nikolai Kulemin (ankle) and Frazer McLaren (hand) and defenseman Mark Fraser (knee) are out, along with suspended forward David Clarkson.
-- Brian Hunter- NHL.com Staff Writer